Materialists believe that all the energy and matter in the universe is governed by physical laws. A planet circles a star at a precise distance from it, electrical impulses travel along neurons in the brain and blood circulates in arteries–all according to law.

Everything exists in its present state because of an infinite chain of law-abiding events that preceded the present circumstances. Some things may appear chaotic and random, but in fact everything is moving and interacting according to precise laws such as those of motion, electromagnetism, gravity and strong and weak nuclear forces. It is not really by chance that a coin will be heads about half the time and tails the other half. Subtleties in the way the coin is held and the forces from your thumb dictate exactly what it will be at every flip.

Every atom in every one of your cells, every molecule you breathe in at this moment and every photon and cosmic ray from the sun and stars striking your body at any given time were all predetermined by physical sequences set in motion with the Big Bang of the materialist’s cosmogony. That electron in the outer orbital of the atom in the molecule in the cell of the skin on the tip of your nose has a history back through eons of time. It’s not there by accident but rather guided to the tip of your nose by law in much the same way a cow moves through a cattle chute. There is only one entry point, the Big Bang, and only one destination, the end of your nose.

Things are said to have always behaved obediently in this way. Thus every present event and every particle could be explained if one were long enough winded and smart enough to describe their physical history.

This concept is termed determinism, a corollary of materialism. It seems a reasonable sort of thing since with precision we can measure and predict the motions of the planets, the speed of an apple falling from a tree and the enzymatic action of pepsin on protein in the meal you just ate. This is the mechanistic science of Newton and is the basis for the logic in evolutionary thought. The more we know about the materialistic laws of nature, the better the predictions.

Now then, if every atom, every piece of matter and every energetic event are predetermined, then our brains are predetermined too. Since the materialist would argue that all thought is a product of brain matter, then every thought would be predetermined since, according to materialists, thought is nothing more than biochemical reactions and nerve transmissions that all proceed according to law.

But this would mean there is no such thing as free will for brains, any more than blacktop has a choice of whether it gets hot or not when exposed to the sun. On the other hand, if there is free will, then that creates a problem since it would deny that materialism is all that there is. Since evolution presumes materialism is all there is, their foundation crumbles. Your free choice to believe in evolution would be the very act that denies its validity.

It would be an interesting exercise to ask an evolutionist if he freely chooses to believe in evolution. (The answer would be yes, of course.) Then ask if he believes the universe is only made of matter, energy and the laws that guide them. (That answer would be yes too.) With those commitments affirmed in a document notarized and signed in triplicate so he could not wiggle out of the trap you have set, you would take the logical journey through determinism proving that free will and materialistic evolution are antithetical. That should be fun… for you at least.

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